Handshakes discouraged at Masses in Clonmel parish during flu outbreak

Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan

Ss Peter and Paul's Parish, Clonmel has advised that shaking hands during the sign of peace at Masses should be discontinued during the current flu outbreak, following a directive from Bishop Cullinan

Massgoers at Ss Peter and Paul's parish in Clonmel have been advised to discontinue shaking hands during the sign of peace at Masses during the current, serious outbreak of flu.

As concern grows about the spread of infection during the flu season, the parish has implemented a directive from Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan of Waterford and Lismore.

The directive states "that due to the very serious outbreak of influenza at this time it is now advisable that, for the next three months, we discontinue exchanging peace by the shaking of hands at Mass". 

A spokesperson for Ss Peter and Paul's says the Bishop "isn't saying we omit the sign of peace, as this cannot be omitted and is an integral part of the Mass in preparation of ourselves before receiving the Blessed Sacrament. 

"What we have implemented into the parish of Ss Peter and Paul’s, and are working to use, is the custom of bowing to the other person; holding up your hand and nod saying 'peace be with you'; or to simply pause and pray for peace. 

"While the handshake represents a low risk of spreading virus, we appreciate people are uncomfortable about it, so they can also use a smile or a bow".

The spokesperson added that those with flu symptoms are “dispensed from their Sunday obligation to attend Mass. 

"In such cases these people can honour the Lord’s Day by praying along with the Mass broadcast by Parish Radio, or Parish webcams".